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Culture and Aging

One of the most basic tenets of sociology is that culture influences people’s behavior, perceptions, and identity, and in turn, the behavior and perceptions of members of a society change and shape culture.  What are older people like? How are they different from or similar to younger people? What do they enjoy doing?  What do they look like–and are those looks attractive?  What are the rewards and challenges of getting older?  Is getting older something to look forward to or something to dread?

Our answers to these questions are influenced by how age and aging are depicted in society.   However, our answers to these questions change over time. As more people enter later life, some stereotypes may be challenged and cultural views may change.  Furthermore, our individual perspective on these questions is likely to change as we get older.  Our race, ethnic background, gender, socioeconomic status and educational levels also influence how we perceive and experience aging.

We will use this blog to explore and reflect on the multitude of ways that aging is depicted in culture and how those depictions shape the perceptions and experience of growing older in American society.  You will develop a keen sociological imagination as you begin to pay careful attention to the many ways that older people and aging are described in movies, television, greeting cards, books, news stories, advertising, music, jokes and the multitude of other ways age is presented in culture.